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Longtime Michigan State assistant coach Mike Garland is retiring after 22 years

Rutgers v Michigan State Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

After 22 years with the Michigan State men’s basketball program as an assistant coach, Mike Garland is officially retiring this summer. His more than four decade-long career in coaching began back in 1977 as a high school coach, and he has been on MSU’s bench under head coach Tom Izzo since 1996, outside of a few years away from the program.

While on staff at Michigan State, Garland has helped coach the Spartans during a legendary span of success that has seen MSU win the the national championship in 2000, along with seven Final Fours appearances, 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, six Big Ten Tournament championships and 10 Big Ten regular season titles.

After the 2002-2003 season at Michigan State, Garland took on the head coach role at Cleveland State from 2003-2006 where the Vikings went 23-60 overall (11-37 in the Horizon League) and he was relieved of his duties after three seasons. Garland spent the next season as an assistant at SMU before rejoining the Spartans in 2007.

Prior to the 2021-2022 season, Garland made the switch from full-time assistant coach to “special assistant to head coach Tom Izzo,” but remained on the Spartans’ bench.

Garland excelled at self-scouting and individual player development. There were 18 Spartans Garland worked with who were selected in the NBA Draft during his time in East Lansing, including six from 2000-2002.

Prior to his college coaching career, Garland earned a number of honors as a coach at the high school level. Besides a 153-49 career record over nine seasons at Belleville as the varsity head coach, Garland was selected as the Associated Press 1993-1994 Michigan High School Coach of the Year, while also being named the Michigan Mega Red Conference Coach of the Year. He coached three players to first-team all-state honors and was named The Detroit News All-Metro West Coach of the Year in 1990-1991, while being selected as the All-Suburban Coach of the Year during the same campaign by the Detroit Free Press.

Statement from Mike Garland on his retirement:
”I’ve been blessed in my life to be provided many great opportunities, but among the best has been the opportunity to interact with the great young men who have been part of the Michigan State men’s basketball program and to do so alongside my friend and loving brother that I can’t say enough about, Tom Izzo, along with other fellow coaches during my time here.

“It is with great joy that I’m stepping away and announcing my retirement from Michigan State. That may seem odd but my absences won’t remove the love of Michigan State from my heart or their love for me from their hearts. I’ll always be a part of this program and will always carry the relationships and friendships I’ve made here with me.

“I’ve worked alongside so many great people here, but the part of the job I’ve always cared for most has been the opportunity to work with young men and impact their lives, each of whom I wish I could mention by name.

“There have been a lot of successful moments on the court here and that’s what Tom has built, one of the best college basketball programs in the country. It’s been an honor to be a part of those championships and Final Fours and to see so many of our players go on to play professionally. I’ve been just as proud to see so many of our players have success in the business world and to become fathers with wonderful families.

“You don’t get the chance to work with a friend for so long like I have with Tom Izzo since we met at Northern Michigan in the early 1970s. He gave me the opportunity to be a part of this program when he became the head coach in 1996 and there is nothing I regret about the decision.

“My wife, Cynthia, and my family have grown up here and Michigan State is a very special place and will always be part of us.

“I always thought that Chief (Tom) and I would share the day of our departure together. And of course I could have given him a few more years to make that dream come true, like all the others we have shared together. But after several months of thought and reflection, while sitting at the hospital bedside of my son (Michael Ray), I decided it was best for my family, while I’m in great health, to give up the game I love to pour more of myself into my wife, my children and eight grandchildren.”

Head Coach Tom Izzo’s Statement on Mike Garland’s Announcement:
“Words can’t truly express what Mike Garland means to me. We’ve been friends since we met the first night in college and basically have lived the rest of our professional lives together. To say he’s just my friend doesn’t even scratch the surface of our relationship. He’s my brother for life.

“At the same time, we all know that life moves on and this is a great time for Mike to step into a deserved retirement after a tremendous career as a leader in college basketball. The impact he has had on not only this program, but also on nearly every young man he’s met while coaching in this sport is incredible. To say that Mike Garland was just a basketball coach would be a disservice. More than anything, Mike has been a teacher and a counselor who has provided life lessons to everyone who came through the doors at the Breslin Center, from players to managers to coaches to staff and definitely to me.

“Mike, his wonderful wife Cynthia and their beautiful family, Simone, Quentin and Michael Ray, have been a big part of our Spartan Family and I thank each of them for what they have done for us.

“If a friend is supposed to have your back, I always knew Mike had mine. Whether in college on the court together, driving his wife to the hospital when she delivered Quentin or just going for all the jogs through campus. Mike will be missed but never forgotten.

“It will be hard for me to come into the office at 7:30 every morning where Mike and I would sit in my office and just talk and not have him there. It will be hard for me to be out of the court or to look down to our bench and not hear his voice or see him there, but Mike Garland’s presence at Michigan State is going to be felt for a long, long time.”